This Interview is linked from the Okeechobee Official Portal Guide.
Interview with Jessie Le Couteur aka KHIVA
From: Vancouver, Canada
Signed to: Deep, Dark & Dangerous (DDD)
SIGT: ‘Butterfly Effect’ starts out with this old-timey piano playing sample and then it drops. What was your inspiration for this back in 2019?
KHIVA: The overall inspiration was definitely like New Orleans jazz culture. I’m always thinking about New Orleans. I’m always thinking about going there. I love that kind of mysterious jazz vibe. Essentially what I did was just took an excerpt from an old record and messed around with it a whole bunch, and then wanted to make it a trippy, warped, almost dystopian drop.
SIGT: It takes you immediately to a different time period, and I think it’s really important to take your listener to be able to time travel them. And you certainly do that.
KHIVA: With anything that I do, I like to use pretty contrasting elements. That’s just what I like—things that stand out amongst each other but also work well together. I feel like that’s something I’ve developed from just being a self-taught producer and with all the different musical styles that I like. I’m trying to blend everything together.
SIGT: Something else that’s very unique about you is you do a lot of vocal samples yourself. When did you first realize that you had this magic in a voice?
KHIVA: Well, I’ve been writing poems, lyrics, and songs since I was really young. That was really the original inspiration to start making music overall. I needed some way to translate my poetry, my lyrics, my writing into a tangible form. Because I always had plans to publish a poetry book, and then I was like, this is just not the vibe for me.
SIGT: I feel that.
KHIVA: That was the general reason that I started making music. It really was just a matter of becoming better and better and good enough to incorporate those things in a way where it actually sounded good. So even if the vocal aspect never made it into a track in my earlier stuff, it would always be there for the production and creation process. And nowadays, I have songs with full lyrics and everything, which I’m so happy to be able to do now. It was just a matter of being able to actually incorporate it in a way that it worked. With In The Quiet, my first EP, has singing on it, but with Butterfly Effect, I kind of stripped it back. For example, in “Feel It Out” there’s just like a little vocal excerpt and little samples. Same with “Other Side,” the main synth line is a vocal I messed around with. It’s always been there, it’s just a matter of if it’s going to work right for a song. I make so many things that don’t have lyrics at all. But I would say that the majority of my stuff does have vocals and lyrics in it nowadays.
SIGT: It’s such a great communication tool for you to get that additional form of art out.
KHIVA: 100%. I’ve always been a writer. My passion is channeling things and speaking through music and the vibe. That’s why DJing is so important to me, because you can channel that wordless message. But then there’s another side of it where—this is just kind of how my brain works—I twist something into some riddle-like format to be able to say what I need to say. I’m quite a quiet person, I keep myself for the most part. It’s really important for me to have both of those sides to be able to express things and people resonate with it. I think that’s one of the most important things I’ve experienced since doing more lyrical stuff is that people are like, I heard this line and it resonated with me, and they’ll take it for whatever meaning they want. That’s super important to me because it takes me back to how I feel about all my favorite music and all my favorite bands, the meanings that I perceive through their music, et cetera, et cetera.
SIGT: It certainly shows a sign of intelligence as well, in a way and you’re more of an observer. I think that points yourself inward to be able to really articulate what you’re trying to say. You did mention some other bands. I know you got into this style of music in your late teens, but before that, were you into any other sort of music?
KHIVA: Yeah, electronic for me was in my late teens. I was pretty much always like a rock and kind of metal listener for the majority of my youth.
SIGT: I knew it. So what kind of bands did you use to listen to?
KHIVA: I mean, like it was a lot of heavy stuff in high school and things like that.
SIGT: Like how heavy? Like Alexisonfire heavy?
KHIVA: Oh 100%. Yeah, I love Alexisonfire. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time. Also, Misery Signals, Whitechaple, Born Of Osiris… I was in that era.
SIGT: Me too. Maybe that’s why I like your music so much because in the back of your head you subconsciously have that influence.
KHIVA: Oh, for sure. I think there’s a definite connection and link between those sorts of styles, especially like heavier dubstep and stuff like that. The year and era a lot of new producers and people my age came from, it was very prevalent. Electronic music was alive and well for the rest of the world, but I was not privy to that at all. It wasn’t really a thing where I grew up.
SIGT: Where did “Swampmonster” come from?
KHIVA: That one is really interesting because the lyrics themselves, I don’t necessarily know why I took that route of a story. But maybe it’s a story that was in my soul that I feel like I needed to be told after a certain amount of years. I’ve always been super into the imagery of Swamp Thing and Creature from Black Lagoon. That type of old school comic vibe. That’s been something that I’ve always really been into. I feel like it was just something that I needed to make. What was cool about that too is when I put it out I was actually living in Costa Rica. So it was really cool to be working on promo and stuff for it while I was in a place so thriving with bugs and there were rivers and water everywhere. So it was cool. And then the new Remixes EP, what’s funny about that, this kind of came full circle, that artwork of the green, alien looking thing is a painting of a “Swamp Monster” that I did when I was 16. I took a photo of it and I edited it for that artwork.
SIGT: That’s so sick. That was before you even got into the style of music. So it’s just like an homage to back then.
SIGT: As an artist and a producer and a DJ like yourself, what does it mean to you to have the opportunity to perform at a magical place like Okee?
KHIVA: I think it’s pretty magical that it has such a huge energy around it and the hype around it. I’ve had friends who have played down there in the last few years and I’ve always heard such good things. When people rave on about something more and more and more like you’re like, okay, there’s a reason there’s something going on there, you know what I mean? And it’s all about energy for me so that’s always a really good sign. I’m always happy to be somewhere where the energy is already there. It’s like you’re set up for success. The people are going to be great. I know everything is going to be great. It’s that kind of love that really means the world to me when people are putting in that sort of energy and effort, it really makes a huge difference. I’m honored to be there and to be able to showcase a couple of different things.
SIGT: Well you are certainly doing it big this year. You’re actually performing two sets on my personal favorite two stages. You’re doing Aquachobee and then Incendia, from Water to Fire.
KHIVA: Hell yeah. That’s a vibe in itself!
SIGT: I know, right? How did the two sets come about?
KHIVA: Honestly I have no idea. I’ll be completely honest. I don’t know but I was really stoked to be able to do that. They were like, do you want to do two sets? And I was like fuck yeah, obviously. Especially at this place.
SIGT: I’m so stoked to see you. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the fans at Okee?
KHIVA: I love you and I am looking forward to it so much.
Interview by Mitch Foster.
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